by Cynthia Weber
The US$10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, sponsored by the Qualcomm Foundation, hopes to bring healthcare’s future to the palm of our hands. With the Star Trek tricorder serving as the ideal model, this global competition has inspired teams to create affordable, portable, hand-held wireless devices that offer reliable diagnoses of at least 15 diseases and health conditions as well as real-time monitoring of health status. Launched in January 2012, ten finalist teams for the competition were selected in August 2014, and the final award ceremony is scheduled for January 2016—the 50th anniversary of the popular Star Trek television series.
HIMSS15 provided a look at some of the competing team’s devices in the Health IT Value Suite (Figure 1). Sridharan Mani, CEO and Director at American Megatrends (Figure 2), the sponsor of Team Danvantri, headquartered in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, highlights their motivation for entering the competition: “Today’s healthcare is more about symptom diagnosis and sick care. We wanted to change the game from ‘illness to wellness’. Our goal is to promote wellness care because we believe that prevention is better than cure. The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE challenge provides us with the right platform to express our vision and to bring the radical change needed in healthcare.”
Figure 1: Original tricorders from the Star Trek series sit beside the Team Danvantri prototype at HIMSS15.
Figure 2: Sridharan Mani, CEO & Director at American Megatrends and Leader of Team Danvantri, introduces their Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE entry at the HIMSS Health IT Value Suite.
Team Danvantri’s device, known as AMI B.O.L.T™ (Figure 3), is a compact wireless home health monitoring system designed to take preventative measures for better health. B.O.L.T is a unique solution in that NiBP (non-invasive blood pressure), pulse oximeter, and temperature are combined into a small form factor device controlled from a mobile device. When paired with AMI VitalsFit™ (Figures 4 and 5), multiple vital parameters are collected through a single device and 95% of the parameters are collected non-invasively. “These parameters are then auto analyzed to detect the state of health at three levels—’All is Well’, ‘Could be Better’, or ‘Needs Attention’. Individuals are notified of their health status regularly and can then make the necessary adjustments to their diet, exercise, and life style habits to keep themselves healthy,” Mani adds.
Figure 3: Team Danvantri’s one-touch wireless health tracking system—AMI B.O.L.T™.
Figure 4: Asha Hariharan from Team Danvantri holds the matchbox-sized AMI VitalsFit™, which in addition to serving as a health monitor and fitness tracker, also provides the user with access to a camera, games, and music.
Figure 5: The AMI VitalsFit™ device can be used to diagnose a set of 15 diseases including anemia, diabetes, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ear infection, and leukocytosis.
Small probes that work with the device check for anemia, ear infection, lung capacity, and ECG/EEG. The device has gone through all the safety and regulatory testing required for CE and is now in the final stages of CE certification. The team is also working on integrating other technologies into the device to meet the competition’s requirements (Figure 6). Looking into the future, “our primary market is with home healthcare, geriatrics care, rural clinics, and diagnostic labs,” Hariharan notes. “We are working with key healthcare institutions across the globe. Our products are white labeled and they would be bundled with the services provided by the healthcare institution to reach the masses.” AMI B.O.L.T™ was introduced to the Indian market in October 2014 and is available for sale in the AMI B.O.L.T™ store (www.amibolt.com), Amazon, and the Flipkart online store. AMI VitalsFit™ is expected to launch within 6-12 months.
Figure 6: Team Danvantri with Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE (pictured fourth from left). Photo courtesy of Team Danvantri.
Team CLOUD DX, based in Toronto, Canada, was also on hand to showcase their patent-pending Vitaliti™, which is capable of recording multiple channels of data including electrocardiogram (ECG), blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), blood pressure (Sys & Dia), and temperature. These data streams combined with cloud-based algorithms have the capability of measuring physiological parameters that include blood pressure, pulse pressure variation, pulse rate, pulse rate variability, respiration rate, heart arrhythmia detection and characterization, cardiac de-coupling, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature, and augmentation index. Results are available on any tablet and securely stored in the cloud. A consumer version of Vitaliti™ is slated to be on the market within 12-18 months; preorders are now being taken (refer to their website for more details).
Cynthia Weber is Associate Editor for the IEEE Life Sciences Newsletter.